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Star-of-the-Show Apple Pie

November 15, 2018 Print this page

Looking for a simple, yet show-stopping Thanksgiving dessert? Try this apple pie topped with pie crust stars. A creative twist on a classic favorite.

Adapted from NY Times Cooking

Ingredients

Prep Time 3 hr
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 4 hr
Yield 1 pie (about 8-12 servings)

FOR THE CRUST:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Generous pinch of sea salt

2 1/2 sticks of cold unsalted butter, cubed

1/4 cup ice water (you may need a little more)

FOR THE FILLING:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunky wedges (I used Granny Smith, Fuji and Honeycrisp)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or a generous pinch of allspice, cloves and nutmeg)

3/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 egg, beaten

Directions

FOR THE CRUST:

In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until it’s the size of small peas. Drizzle in the water, a tablespoon at a time, until a firm (but not sticky) dough forms.

Dump the dough and any floury remnants onto a well-floured work space. Gently form into a smooth ball of dough, being careful not to overwork. Cut the dough ball in half and chill for at least 2 hours.

Once chilled, roll out one piece of dough on a well-floured work space. You want the dough to be an inch to an inch and a half bigger than your pie tin. For example, I used a 9 inch tin, so I rolled my dough to a little more than 10 inches in diameter. Make sure you continuously flip and flour the dough so it doesn’t stick to your rolling pin or work surface.

Carefully pick up your dough and press it into your pie tin. Using a fork, prick several holes in the crust to get out all the air bubbles. Trim the overhang, crimp or style as you desire, and put the pie crust in the freezer to chill for at least half an hour.

FOR THE FILLING:

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the apples and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the spices, sugar and salt and cook until the apples just begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour and cornstarch over the apples and quickly stir to incorporate. Cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the apple cider vinegar, and allow to cool to room temperature. (You can put it in the fridge to speed the process up.)

TO ASSEMBLE:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Once the apples have cooled, gently spoon them into your pie crust, making sure the top is even. Set aside.

Roll out your other piece of dough on a well-floured workspace until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. Using a floured star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out pieces of dough and gently place them atop the pie. Once you’ve worked your way through the dough, squish it back together and roll out another piece. (Don’t do this too many times, otherwise the pie crust will be tough!)

Place the pie on a baking sheet and brush the top with the egg. Place in the oven on a medium rack and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 and cook until bubbling and golden-brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature (at least an hour if you can stand it), then cut and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Best eaten day of!


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Chocolate Mousse Tiramisu

January 4, 2018 Print this page

What to do when one of your containers of mascarpone goes missing on your way back from Trader Joe’s? Replace it with leftover chocolate mousse. My best improvisation of 2017.

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time
Total Time 6 hr
Yield 12 servings

FOR THE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE:

6 ounces of dark chocolate, finely chopped

3 egg whites

1/3 cup of sugar

2 cups of heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

FOR THE TIRAMISU:

6 egg yolks

2/3 cup of sugar

2/3 cup of whole milk

1 cup of heavy cream

2 8 oz containers of mascarpone cheese

1/4 cup of strong coffee, cooled

2 tablespoons of rum

6 ounces of mixed ladyfingers (vanilla and chocolate)

Directions

FOR THE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE:

In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate, stirring to prevent burning. Set aside and let cool to room temperature without solidifying.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat, or else you’ll wind up with butter.

Fold the egg whites into the saucepan with the cooled chocolate. Then, fold the egg white/chocolate mixture into the whipped cream. Go slowly. Once no streaks of white remain, fold in the vanilla and salt. Set aside.

TIP: Save the yolks from the eggs you separated. You’ll use them in the tiramisu!

FOR THE TIRAMISU:

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Add the milk and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Let boil for a minute, then immediately remove from the heat. Pour into a heatproof dish, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool in the fridge for an hour.

Once the hour has elapsed, fold in the mascarpone. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream to stiff peaks. Set aside.

In a measuring cup, combine the coffee and rum. Place the ladyfingers in a large shallow baking dish. Slowly pour the coffee/rum mixture over them and gently toss to combine. Totally okay if things get a bit mushy or a few ladyfingers break. Let sit for a few minutes before proceeding.

Place a layer of ladyfingers (about half of them) on the bottom of a deep baking dish or other large serving vessel. Top with half of the mascarpone, then half the chocolate mousse, then half the whipped cream. Repeat with the remaining ladyfingers, mascarpone, mousse and cream. Dust the top with cocoa powder.

Let chill in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight, then serve!


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Chocolate Mousse

May 16, 2017 Print this page

Need an easy dessert to impress your friends? Don’t have much equipment? No need to fear, chocolate mousse is here! With a straightforward list of ingredients and little work involved, this treat will both put you at ease and knock the socks off of anyone to whom you serve it.

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time
Total Time 4 hr
Yield 4-6 servings

2 cups of heavy whipping cream

3 egg whites

1/3 cup of sugar

6 ounces of good dark chocolate, finely chopped

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Directions

Place a medium/large bowl and a whisk in the fridge. Let chill for 30 minutes.

Remove the bowl and whisk, then add the heavy cream. Beat vigorously until stiff peaks form and the cream holds its shape, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

No whisk? No problem. Chill a glass jar with a screwable lid for 30 minutes, then pour cream in up to the halfway mark. Screw the lid on tight and shake vigorously until the cream stops making sloshing noises. If you open the lid and see that the cream has thickened, you’re done! If not, keep going. This method might sound silly, but trust me, it works in a pinch.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with a whisk until soft peaks form, about 7 to 8 minutes. (If you don’t have a whisk, you can use a fork. It will be a pain in the butt, but it will get the job done.) Then add the sugar and continue beating until still peaks form, about 5 minutes longer.

In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate over medium-low heat until smooth. (You can also do this in a bowl in the microwave.) Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Pour the chocolate into a large bowl. Gently fold in the egg white/sugar mixture with a spatula, going slowly as not to disrupt the aeration you’ve just created. Once only a few streaks of egg white remain, add the whipped heavy cream and vanilla. Continue folding gently until no streaks of white remain.

Put the bowl with the chocolate mousse in the fridge to chill for at least an hour, preferably four hours or longer.

Spoon the chocolate mousse into bowls or serving cups. Garnish with more whipped cream, berries and/or cocoa powder. Serve chilled.


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Mississippi Mud Pies

April 28, 2014 Print this page

When I was younger, my parents and I would often go out to dinner at a restaurant called the Ash Creek Saloon. It was kinda a cheesy place with wood everything and lots of cowboy hats, but as I recall, the food was pretty good.  The restaurant is gone now, but the one thing I still have a concrete memory of was the Mississippi Mud Pie. I only have flashes of Oreo cookie crumbs and sticky chocolate syrup, but I remember that it was really, really good. This is a healthier and more sophisticated version.

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time
Total Time 4 hr
Yield 3 good-sized mud pies

FOR THE CRUST:

2 cups of walnuts

1/2 cup of cocoa powder

A pinch of salt

2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or coconut nectar)

FOR THE COFFEE CREAM:

1 cup of cashews, soaked overnight

1/2 cup of strongly-brewed coffee (preferably decaf)

2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or coconut nectar)

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

A pinch of salt

FOR THE CHOCOLATE LAYER:

The coconut cream from 2 cans of coconut milk (put them in the fridge overnight, tip upside down, and pour out the “water” on the bottom)

1/2 cup of cocoa powder

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or coconut nectar)

A pinch of salt

FOR THE CHOCOLATE SHELL:

3 tablespoons of coconut oil

3 tablespoons of cocoa powder

Directions

FOR THE CRUST:

Pour the walnuts, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Process until the walnuts are finely ground but nowhere near turning buttery, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or coconut nectar, if you prefer) and process for another 30 seconds until everything sticks together in a nice, firm dough.

If you find your crust is too liquid-y, add in more walnuts. If you find it is too dry, add more maple syrup.

Line 3 mini spring-form pans (or ramekins if you don’t have them) with a circle of parchment paper. Using your fingers, squish 1/6 of the crust into each of the pans, using up only half of your total crust. Spread it out so there are no holes and everything is in one uniform layer.

Pop those guys in the freezer while you make the coffee cream layer.

FOR THE COFFEE CREAM:

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the cashews with the coffee, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, and a pinch of salt. Blend until homogeneous and creamy, about 1 minute.

Take the spring form pans out of the freezer and evenly divide the cashew mixture among the three of them. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth them out, then pop them back into the freezer for at least 3 hours to firm up. This is crucial!

After your spring form pans have been in the freezer for 3 hours with the cashew base, take them out and evenly divide the rest of the crust mixture among the pans.

Applying very gentle pressure, spread the crust out so it completely covers the layer of cashew cream. If you press too hard, you’ll have a mess–so be very, very careful.

Pop those bad boys back in the freezer while you make the light, fluffy chocolate layer.

FOR THE CHOCOLATE LAYER:

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the coconut cream with 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and a pinch of salt. Blend just to combine (only about 15-20 seconds), then taste and adjust if necessary.

Take the spring form pans out of the freezer (again) and divide the fluffy chocolate layer evenly among the three pans. Pop in the freezer for at least another hour.

Take the pans out of the freezer after the hour has elapsed. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of coconut oil with 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, then pour 1/3 of it over the top of each pie, using a fork or spoon to spread it out.

Put back in the freezer overnight. The next day, de-mold the Mississippi Mud Pies and store in the fridge for a softer dessert or freezer for a firmer sweet treat.

Enjoy!


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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

March 13, 2014 Print this page

A pie celebrating the marriage of two of my favorite ingredients: chocolate and peanut butter. It’s like a party in your mouth, and indulgence was certainly invited.

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time
Total Time 6 hr 15 min
Yield 1 9-inch pie (about 10-12 servings)

FOR THE CRUST:

1 1/2 cups of gluten-free rolled oats (substitute almonds/walnuts/buckwheat for grain-free)

1 1/2 cups of pitted dates

1/4 cup of smooth peanut butter (substitute sunflower seed butter for paleo)

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

A pinch of salt

FOR THE FILLING:

2 cups of whole, raw cashews

1/4 cup of smooth peanut butter (substitute sunflower seed butter for paleo)

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1/2 of a large avocado

2 cups of soft pitted dates

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

1/3 cup of water, plus more if needed

1/2 cup of good-quality cacao powder

FOR THE DRIZZLE:

1 tablespoon of coconut oil, melted

2 teaspoons of smooth peanut butter (substitute sunflower seed butter for paleo)

Cacao nibs or dark chocolate curls, to garnish

Directions

Soak the cashews with enough warm water to cover them completely for at least 3 hours and up to 6. If you soak the cashews for too long, they’ll be slimy and gross; if you don’t soak them for long enough, your blender or food processor will make so much noise your cats will run for cover. Moral of the story: soak wisely.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the oats, dates, smooth peanut butter, cinnamon, and salt until the texture of coarse sand. The ingredients should hold together very easily when touched, and no crumbs should flake off; when in doubt, add another date or two or another tablespoon of peanut butter.

Press into the bottom of a spring form pan and refrigerate for an hour.

Drain the cashews and discard the soaking water. Give them a gentle rinse over, and throw into the blender or food processor with the peanut butter, coconut oil, avocado, dates, maple syrup, and water. Process or blend until smooth.

Pour in the cacao powder and process or blend until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the blender or food processor bowl if necessary.

Now, it’s time to examine the texture. If it’s like a thick pudding, you’re good to go. If it’s more like raw cookie dough, keep adding water–a little bit at a time–to get it smoother and creamier. If it’s too liquid-y, add more peanut butter or dates.

Once your desired texture has been reached, take the crust out of the fridge and pour the filling on top, taking care to scrape the bowl’s sides. Put back in the fridge overnight, or freeze for at least four hours.

When ready to serve, combine the coconut oil with the peanut butter, and stir to combine. Using the stirring spoon, drizzle the peanut butter-and-oil mixture all over the top of the pie. Because the pie will be cold, the drizzle will solidify almost immediately, creating a cool pattern.

To enhance the prettiness factor, sprinkle the top with cacao nibs or dark chocolate curls, if you’re feeling fancy. Serve cold.


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